Hope for His Grace – Psalm 123

Psalm 123

Prayer for the LORD’S Help.

A Song of Ascents.

To You I lift up my eyes,
O You who are enthroned in the heavens!
Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master,
As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress,
So our eyes look to the LORD our God,
Until He is gracious to us.
Be gracious to us, O LORD, be gracious to us,
For we are greatly filled with contempt.
Our soul is greatly filled
With the scoffing of those who are at ease,
And with the contempt of the proud.

Last week I learned something about hope – specifically misplaced hope. We’ve all experienced it: ‘I hope I pass my exam … I hope my loved one gets better … I hope I land a job.’  As a difficult week came to a close, I began hearing these song lyrics over and over again in my head: ‘My hope is You, show me Your ways, guide me in truth in all my days, my hope is You’ [Third Day, Offerings].

Do you ever get sidetracked – I mean by literally looking side to side at things or circumstances around you? It’s become kind of a joke in our house, but it’s really true: whenever any of us state that we’ve found something we want to buy, one of us responds, “It won’t make you happy.” Every thing we look to for happiness will eventually fail – the car will break down, the new stereo will need dusting, and all the money in the world can still leave you feeling empty inside. Add to that the troubles we face from time to time – poor health, a job loss, or a drug-addicted child – and we have a world of problems vying for our attention. The Psalmist knows that a prerequisite to worship is a change in the direction of our gaze – we have to start by lifting our eyes upwards. What we find when we do so is staggering: there is a throne in the heavens and the One we worship is seated on it.

Sometimes outside I hear a faint buzzing sound and looking up I see a white contrail. I know it signals a plane flying overhead, too small for me to see without the telling trail behind it. I don’t think that’s what the Psalmist had in mind when he spoke of seeing God enthroned in the heavens. I get the sense that he saw a God who fills the skies, One who can’t be missed.

This vision of God not only commanded the Psalmist’s attention, but it sparked his imagination. Struck by his own comparative smallness, he recognized himself as a servant of this One who reigns over an entire universe, and in that realization he saw his own need. A servant owns nothing, commands no-one, but is utterly dependent on his master for everything – shelter, food, perhaps life itself.  Further, while the Psalmist rightly perceived his role as a servant of a heavenly Master, he also recognized that Master as a God of grace. In fact, before the Psalmist vocalized his problem He acknowledged the solution: unearned favor from his benevolent King.

Every time I read this Psalm I am struck by its boldness.  The Psalmist’s faith in God’s love for him astounds! This God whose throne fills the universe, making all of creation look small under His vastness – the One to whom I am but a servant – cares about me, us. And the Psalmist knows what we sometimes forget: God awaits our cry for grace. He is ready to give it, but so often we fail in this: we misplace our hope and are quick to make a change in circumstance(s) our priority. We forget to put our hope in God alone. After all, He sees the big picture, He knows His plans and purposes. No matter the circumstances we find ourselves in, grace is what we need to walk through them successfully. In the end a change in our circumstances will not satisfy; there is always another bend in the road ahead. But when we lift our eyes, we find ourselves captivated by the beauty and majesty of the King of heaven. Then we are reminded that as overwhelming as our circumstances may seem, there is One who rules and reigns over all of them.

In a way, Psalm 123 paints a stark contrast: Humble servants looking up in acknowledgment of their need for grace, and the eyes of the proud looking at others with contempt. I think in the end it serves as a warning. The Psalmist is asking me a question: do I understand my place as a humble servant of a loving, all powerful Father, or have I become distracted (by either my troubles or my accomplishments) such that I have forgotten my need for His grace?

So our eyes look to the LORD our God,
Until He is gracious to us.
Be gracious to us, O LORD, be gracious to us!

 

2 thoughts on “Hope for His Grace – Psalm 123

  1. I love this Cindy. Your article serves to remind me of the goodness of God. He has allowed circumstances to come into my life in the last few years that filled me with such fear, such a sense of loneliness, that I thought He had turned His back on me. What I did not realize, during that time was that not only had He not turned His back on me, but He actually had “picked me up”, so to speak, in order to set me free. I had placed my trust in that which can be taken away. He blew His breath on my life, separating me unto Himself. Now, when I “look up”, I too see the heavens filled with His glory. He is my rock, my refuge, my comfort, my hope. He alone is faithful and true. We have those in this life we love, care for and to a certain extent, depend upon. But we can never let them be before Abba.
    Blessings my friend.

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